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Podcast content targeting young people is hot right now with downloads in the Kids & Family category up 22% so far this year, according to Podtrac. The public media company PRX says it has seen an increased demand for family-friendly content during the COVID-19 quarantine, with a more than 50% increase in listening throughout its catalog of podcasts for young audiences. Now in a move to better serve 9- to 13-year-olds, PRX has created Trax, a portfolio of free podcasts and multimedia elements geared toward that age group.

“The current public health crisis has created uncertainty in many of our lives and we believe that public media can provide an inviting space for young audiences,” said Kerri Hoffman, CEO of PRX. “We’ve recently seen a notable growth in listenership across podcasts aimed at a younger audience, and believe now is the right time to introduce Trax as a trusted resource for tweens and caregivers in search of their next favorite storytellers and stories.”

The shows will offer tween listeners programming that explores topics including friendship, mental health, wellness and race, as well as universalities encountered personally, such as life at school. Among the shows that are part of the Trax portfolio is Feeling My Flo, which targets young women. So is the first season of the fiction podcast Timestorm, which PRX co-produces with Cocotazo Media, with a second season set for release next month. Also is the works is a CBC Podcasts production called Tai Asks Why, set to join Trax during the summer. Also on the horizon is The Magic Sash, from the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission in partnership with PRX and Gen-Z Media, set for release in July. And debuting in the fall is Milky Way Underground, produced by members of the team behind The Orbiting Human Circus, Adventures in New America, and Night Vale Presents.

“Our shows are real and relatable, created by producers who look back at their middle school moments and recognize what they needed for themselves at that time, using their experiences to make the stories they wish they’d had then,” Michelle Smawley, Executive Producer of Trax, said in a blog post. “Trusted kids content is in high demand right now, and Trax is positioned to provide high-quality listening immediately.”

PRX earlier said that it has seen a 50% increase in unique listeners to the PRX kids’ portfolio during the COVID-19 lockdown, including an initial 55% increase in consumption of its kids’ shows, both with new episodes and deep into the back catalog. “We are very encouraged by what we’ve seen so far as an indicator of demand for kids’ podcasts. We see this unprecedented moment as an opportunity to develop new habits, especially around listening and screen-minimal activities,” Hardwick said.

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